At the start of this season, Patrick Beverley represented a type of player lakers have long needed LeBron James as the 3-and-D point guard who had just enough sass to hold the stars around him accountable. However, what emerged in the early stages of the season was Beverley is underperforming and unable to make a difference at either end of the pitch.
While the year is still fairly young, it’s been a disappointing campaign so far for someone who was expected to contribute. Considering the Lakers traded one of their few assets this offseason to Talen Horton-Tuckerit makes his disappointing game even more frustrating.
And if you’re looking for MORE reasons to be frustrated, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin provided a little more ammo lately. On his weekly podcast, where he spoke to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk about the Lakers and Clippers, McMenamin detailed a trade the Lakers hadn’t made with THT last season before pulling the trigger on PatBev (h /t OVOLakeShow/Twitter).
“I’m told the Lakers have been in talks with him Toronto Raptors where the Raptors late last year when it already looked like the Lakers were likely out or at least a low seed and didn’t have a likely championship path to go all the way, the Raptors would have against Talen Horton-Tucker bartered. Traded a first round pick. So think about it, the Lakers now had one more first round pick in addition to the first two to play with to try and make this team better… Now, of course, I’ve been told that the trade also involved would have been khem birch so they would have taken some money there and maybe birch wouldn’t be the best rotation type for this group but this first round pick is so valuable and that’s why with what they can pursue now they’re so paralyzed
Well, the notable part of this will and should be the Lakers declining a first-round pick. In hindsight, given how much they aren’t getting out of PatBev, it looks a lot easier to trade for Khem Birch when a pick is added.
It should be noted that no matter how little PatBev is offering this year, Birch is doing less. He has only played seven games and 48 minutes in total this year. He has nearly as many fouls (12) as points (13) and fewer rebounds (7) than both despite being a center. He doesn’t offer distance as a shooter and is basically a non-factor for the Raptors at the moment.
All of this comes despite being paid $6.6 million this season while owing him $6.9 million next season. The opposite of that is, if the Lakers took a trade to improve this season and used those draft picks to do it, Birch would almost certainly have been a salary in that trade considering how few non-max -Contracts the team has.
Maybe the Lakers felt they could get a better trade package in the offseason, or maybe they were just put off by the long-term money Birch was due. It was nice a feeling the front office reportedly had when looking for a Russell Westbrook trade and it is fair to assume that the same would apply to other deals.
But, man. Having an extra first-round pick in the bag feels like the difference between this team having the likes of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner on the list and not, or at least a different trade. While they couldn’t have predicted how disappointing both PatBev and Damian Jones would be, it feels like you’re focusing on the wrong part of the deal when you’re potentially missing the deal because of Birch.
Mark this as another asset that has been mismanaged by the Lakers in recent years.